Passion vine butterfly on a passion flower

This passion vine butterfly was feeding on passion flowers, but it will feed and many other flowers, too. It gets its name because passion vines are the host plant for the passion vine butterfly’s caterpillar. Those caterpillars spend their days munching leaves, many of which have little yellow bumps on them. The bumps, which can be seen in the photos, are the plants’ way of trying to fool the butterflies into believing that there are already eggs on the leaves and so it’s not a good spot to lay more.

It’s hard to know how effective this ruse is. I’ve seen many butterflies laying eggs on these leaves, but perhaps some are discouraged. Regardless, the caterpillars will move from leaf to leaf while chowing down, but they never seem to defoliate the plant, which is, in any case, a robustly growing vine.

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